Whether investigating the stories behind the headlines, narrating socioeconomic transformations, or explaining Hillary Clinton’s resurgence, this season’s top political books question the status quo.
Coming on the heels of the late December release of Pussy Riot members Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (who served nearly two years in a prison colony for their 2012 “punk prayer” in a Moscow church) and publishing a month early to keep up with breaking news, Russian-American journalist Masha Gessen’s Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot could not be more timely. Gessen (The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin) draws on exclusive access to the five feminist punk activists, their families, and associates to tell the personal stories of these courageous young women and what their experience says about Putin’s Russia.
Striking a similarly provocative note is journalist Glenn Greenwald’s much anticipated No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State. An investigative reporter for the Guardian, Greenwald broke the story and promises further revelations from documents entrusted to him by Snowden.
Taking on the seemingly insurmountable debate over gun control in America, in The Second Amendment: A Biography, Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law, traces the history of this controversial provision to the Bill of Rights.
Rolling Stone contributing editor Matt Taibbi (The Great Derangement) tackles economic inequality in The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap, arguing that the wealth gap is changing our understanding of right and wrong, with the 1% operating as a “lawless aristocracy” while the rest live in “the shadow of an incipient American police state.”
A wealth gap is just one of the fundamental conflicts that Evan Osnos analyzes in Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China. Formerly the Beijing correspondent for the New Yorker and a current staff writer, Osnos describes the clash between the rise of the individual and the Communist Party’s struggle to retain control. Never underestimate the Chinese. In China’s Second Continent: How a Million Migrants Are Building a New Empire in Africa, Howard W. French, former New York Times bureau chief in Africa and China and author of A Continent for the Taking, relies upon on-the-ground reporting to study China’s economic, political, and human presence across Africa.
Giving optimistic voice to the African perspective, award-winning writer and scholar Dayo Olopade shows how Africans are thriving in the face of adversity in The Bright Continent: Breaking Rules and Making Change in Modern Africa. Olopade reports on the continent’s explosion of commercial opportunities and technological innovations, and suggests that more prosperous economies can learn from “the hustle and ingenuity of your average African.”
Turning back to American politics, the season sees a number of books on the Clintons, all eyes on Hillary, as well as her sure to be bestselling memoir. Weekly Standard online editor Daniel Halper promises a “never before told story of strategic cleverness, reckless gambles, and an unquenchable thirst for political power” in Clinton, Inc.: The Audacious Rebuilding of a Political Machine, while journalists Jonathan Allen (White House bureau chief for Politico) and Amie Parnes (White House correspondent for the Hill) examine Hillary’s “political revitalization at home and abroad” in HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton.
Readers seeking a new, plainspoken voice should check out the untitled memoir, and ninth book, by Massachusetts’s Sen. Elizabeth Warren, which contains her manifesto as well as the humorous story of her political education.
PW’s Top 10: Politics
Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot. Masha Gessen. Riverhead, Jan. 8
No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State. Glenn Greenwald. Metropolitan Books, Apr. 29
The Second Amendment: A Biography. Michael Waldman. Simon & Schuster, May 20
The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap. Matt Taibbi. Spiegel & Grau, Apr. 8
Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China. Evan Osnos. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, May 13
China’s Second Continent: How a Million Migrants Are Building a New Empire in Africa. Howard W. French. Knopf, May 20
The Bright Continent: Breaking Rules and Making Change in Modern Africa. Dayo Olopade. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Mar. 4
Clinton, Inc.: The Audacious Rebuilding of a Political Machine. Daniel Halper. Broadside, June 3
HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton. Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes. Crown, Feb. 18
Untitled Nonfiction. Elizabeth Warren. Metropolitan Books, May 20
The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor by William Easterly (Mar. 4, hardcover, $29.99, ISBN 978-0465031252) traces the history of the fight against global poverty, showing not only how these tactics have trampled the individual freedom of the world’s poor, but also how they have suppressed a vital debate about an alternative approach to solving poverty: freedom. 40,000-copy announced first printing.
Redeemer: The Life of Jimmy Carter by Randall Balmer (May 13, hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-0465029587). Religious historian Balmer reveals how the rise and fall of Carter’s political fortunes mirrored the transformation of American religious politics. 25,000-copy announced first printing.
The Crusades of Cesar Chavez: A Biography by Miriam Pawel (Mar. 25, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-1608197101). A searching portrait of an important figure long shrouded in myth by a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and author of The Union of Their Dreams, an acclaimed history of Chavez’s movement.
Clinton, Inc.: The Audacious Rebuilding of a Political Machine by Daniel Halper (June 3, hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-0062311238). Weekly Standard editor Halper provides a meticulously researched account of the brilliant calculations, secret deals, and occasionally treacherous maneuverings that led to the Clintons’ return to political prominence. 75,000-copy announced first printing.
Obama’s Enforcer: Eric Holder’s Justice Department by John Fund and Hans von Spakovsky (June 10, hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-0062320926) provides the first investigative look inside the feared and powerful Department of Justice under Attorney General Holder. 50,000-copy announced first printing.
Big Tent: The Story of the Conservative Revolution—As Told by the Thinkers and Doers Who Made It Happen, edited and introduced by Mallory Factor, with Elizabeth Factor (Apr. 8, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-0062290694). Factor (Shadowbosses) brings together a diverse range of essays from leading figures and activists to explore the conservative intellectual tradition in American politics. 25,000-copy announced first printing.
(dist. by Consortium)
Border Patrol Nation: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Homeland Security by Todd Miller (Mar. 18, trade paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-0872866317) features fast-paced frontline reporting and analysis on the militaristic spread of the U.S. Border Patrol and the long-term consequences for a free society.
HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes (Feb. 18, hardcover, $26, ISBN 9780804136754) takes readers inside Clinton’s decision to join the Obama Cabinet, her four years as secretary of state, and the mysterious workings of Bill and Hillary’s political machine as she makes her decision about the 2016 election.
Generation Duped by Katie Kieffer (July 15, hardcover, $24, ISBN 978-0804139755) provides an indictment of the Obama administration’s mistreatment of American youth.
The Party’s Over: How the Extreme Right Hijacked the GOP and I Became a Democrat by Charlie Crist and Ellis Henican (Feb. 4, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-0525954415). Crist, the former Republican governor of Florida who is now running for the same office as a Democrat, spent years in the GOP’s inner circle. He reveals why he switched sides in this memoir.
The Nuclear Terrorist: His Financial Backers and Political Patrons in the U.S. and Abroad by Robert Gleason (Apr. 8, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-0765338129) argues that America’s leaders, including the last two presidential administrations, have been shockingly lax when it comes to protecting the U.S.—and the world—from the spreading threat of nuclear proliferation.
Georgetown Univ. Press
The Rise and Fall of Intelligence: An International Security History by Michael Warner (Apr. 1, paper, $29.95, ISBN 978-1626160460). This sweeping history of the development of professional, institutionalized intelligence examines the implications of the fall of the state monopoly on espionage today and beyond.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China by Evan Osnos (May 13, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0374280741). A vibrant, colorful, and revelatory inner history of China during a moment of profound transformation.
FSG/Sarah Crichton Books
Now I Know Who My Comrades Are: Voices from the Internet Underground by Emily Parker (Feb. 18, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0374176952). An incisive look at the next major battlegrounds between dissidents and oppressive regimes. Parker, a State Department policymaker, tells the stories of dissidents from China, Cuba, and Russia.
Good Hunting: An American Spymaster’s Story by Jack Devine and Vernon Loeb (May 13, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0374130329). A master class in spycraft from a 32-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Harvard Univ. Press
The Army and Democracy: Military Politics in Pakistan by Aqil Shah (Apr. 21, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0674728936) identifies steps for reforming Pakistan’s armed forces and reducing its interference in politics.
A Taste for Intrigue: The Multiple Lives of François Mitterrand by Philip Short (Apr. 8, hardcover, $38, ISBN 978-0805088533). A biography of the man who changed the course of modern France.
Hill and Wang
On Democracy’s Doorstep: The Inside Story of How the Supreme Court Brought “One Person, One Vote” to the United States by J. Douglas Smith (June 10, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0809074235) shows how Supreme Court decisions made democracy real for all citizens of the United States.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
The Bright Continent: Breaking Rules and Making Change in Modern Africa by Dayo Olopade (Mar. 4, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0547678313). An exciting new voice offers a fresh portrait of Africans thriving in the face of adversity. 25,000-copy announced first printing.
China’s Second Continent: How a Million Migrants Are Building a New Empire in Africa by Howard W. French (May 20, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0307956989), a prize-winning investigative reporter, provides a trenchant, immersive account of the burgeoning Chinese presence in Africa.
The Stranger: Barack Obama in the White House by Chuck Todd (Apr. 22, hardcover, $29, ISBN 978-0316079570). A strikingly provocative, behind-the-scenes account of President Obama’s White House tenure, by NBC’s award-winning Chief White House Correspondent. 60,000-copy announced first printing.
Untitled Nonfiction by Elizabeth Warren (May 20, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-1627790529). An unlikely political star tells the inspiring story of the two-decade journey that taught her how Washington really works—and really doesn’t.
The Future We Want: Radical Ideas for the New Century by Sarah Leonard and Bhaskar Sunkara (Mar. 25, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-0805098297). A stirring blueprint for American equality, edited by Jacobin magazine founder Sunkara and the New Inquiry’s Leonard, both in their 20s. The book announces the arrival of a new political left that not only protests but plans.
No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State by Glenn Greenwald (Apr. 29, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-1627790734). A groundbreaking look at the NSA surveillance scandal, from the reporter who broke the story.
No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War Through Afghan Eyes by Anand Gopal (Apr. 29, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0805091793). As U.S. troops prepare to withdraw, the shocking tale of how the American military had triumph in sight in Afghanistan—and then brought the Taliban back from the dead. Gopal follows three Afghans through years of U.S. missteps: a Taliban commander, a U.S.-backed warlord, and a housewife trapped in the middle of the fighting.
Don’t Hurt People and Don’t Take Their Stuff: A Libertarian Manifesto by Matt Kibbe (Apr. 8, hardcover, $23.99, ISBN 978-0062308252). From the author of Hostile Takeover and president of FreedomWorks comes this passionate defense of libertarianism. 50,000-copy announced first printing.
Fracture: Obama, the Clintons, and the Democratic Divide by Joy-Ann Reid (May 27, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-0062305251). Reid charts the complicated relationship between Barack Obama and Bill and Hillary Clinton, showing how the Democratic party’s faithful and its power players have been caught in a whirl of shifting allegiances to each. 75,000-copy announced first printing.
Unstoppable: The Emerging Right-Left Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State by Ralph Nader (Apr. 29, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-1568584546) makes an impassioned case for liberals and conservatives to come together and fight against corporate control of the United States economy and political process.
Last Act: The Final Years and Emerging Legacy of Ronald Reagan by Craig Shirley (July 15, hardcover, $24.99, ISBN 978-1595555342) looks at the final chapter of Reagan’s life: his health, influence, and emerging legacy.
Thermonuclear Monarchy: Choosing Between Democracy and Doom by Elaine Scarry (Feb. 24, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0393080087). From a leading social thinker, a persuasive case for the elimination of nuclear weapons.
Machine Made: Tammany Hall and the Creation of Modern American Politics by Terry Golway (Mar. 3, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0871403759). A major, surprising new history of New York’s most famous political machine—Tammany Hall—revealing, beyond the vice and corruption, a birthplace of progressive urban politics.
The Wrongs of the Right: Language, Race, and the Republican Party in the Age of Obama by Matthew W. Hughey and Gregory S. Parks (May 30, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0814760543). A cutting critique of the political Right’s opposition to President Obama, which is tainted with racial fears, coded language, and explicit and implicit racism.
Oxford Univ. Press
Tibet: An Unfinished Story by Lezlee Brown Halper and Stefan Halper (Apr. 1, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-0199368365). A revealing new history of Tibet draws on the authors’ anthropological and political expertise on South Asia.
Temptations of Power: Islamists and Illiberal Democracy in a New Middle East by Shadi Hamid (Apr. 1, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0199314058) examines how Islamist political parties developed in the past quarter century and how they have struggled to define themselves in the wake of the Arab Spring.
Bringing Down Gaddafi: On the Ground with the Libyan Rebels by Andrei Netto (June 3, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-1137279125). A riveting look at how decades of silence suddenly erupted against the dictator, as told by participants in the Libyan revolution and the assassination of Gaddafi.
American Panic: A History of Who Scares Us and Why by Mark Stein (May 20, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-1137279026) analyzes what political panics—from the Salem witch trials to the Tea Party—can tell us about our modern society.
Unreasonable Men: Theodore Roosevelt and the Republican Rebels Who Created Progressive Politics by Michael Wolraich (July 22, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0230342231). The gripping tale of a few brave Republicans whose revolt against their own party started the war between progressives and conservatives that now defines modern American politics.
The Nixon Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It by John W. Dean (July 29, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-0670025367). Former White House Counsel Dean, one of the last major surviving figures of Watergate, connects the dots between what we’ve come to believe about Watergate and what actually happened, based on Nixon’s overlooked recordings.
Princeton Univ. Press
Ruling Russia: Authoritarianism from the Revolution to Putin by William Zimmerman (Apr. 27, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-0691161488) traces the history of modern Russian politics from the Bolshevik revolution to the presidency of Vladimir Putin and examines the complex evolution of communist and post-Soviet leadership.
Big Money: Big Egos, Bigger Stakes, and the Biggest New Game in Politics by Kenneth P. Vogel (June 3, hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-1610393386) pulls back the veil on the new political money market transforming our democracy and shows why campaign spending by super PAC billionaires in the 2012 presidential election was just the opening round of a transformative spending spree. 60,000-copy announced first printing.
National Insecurity: U.S. Foreign Policy Making in an Age of Fear by David Rothkopf (May 27, hardcover, $28.99, ISBN 978-1610393409) tells the inside story of American foreign policy during an era of perceived retreat, marked by unprecedented turmoil and challenges. 30,000-copy announced first printing.
The Fate of the Union: Europe’s Choice? Economic and Political Revival or Disintegration by George Soros, with Gregor Schmitz (Apr. 8, hardcover, $22.99, ISBN 978-1610394215). Financier and philanthropist Soros reveals the roots of Europe’s current financial crisis and assesses its consequences for the global economy and for the political ideals embodied by the European Union. 60,000-copy announced first printing.
Asia’s Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific by Robert D. Kaplan (Mar. 25, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0812994322). From the author of The Revenge of Geography comes a vivid snapshot of the nations surrounding the South China Sea, the conflicts brewing in the region at the dawn of the 21st century, and what they could mean for the United States.
(dist. by Perseus)
Blue Collar Conservatives by Rick Santorum (Apr. 28, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-1621572398). Former presidential candidate Santorum explains how to re-energize the Republican base by showing blue collar Americans just how much conservative policies support their personal welfare. 50,000-copy announced first printing.
Lone Star America: How Texas Can Save Our Country by Mark Davis (May 19, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-1621572251). Radio host Davis makes a case for economic prosperity, individual freedom, strong families, and even stronger pride of place—alive and kicking in Texas, and exportable to the rest of America. 50,000-copy announced first printing.
Why India Matters by Maya Chadda (Apr. 1, trade paper, $25, ISBN 978-1626370395) explores India’s distinctive path to power in both the national and international arenas.
Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot by Masha Gessen (Jan. 8, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1594632198) offers an inside look at Pussy Riot, a group of women whose act of protest and consequent punishment shined a light on the shifting dynamics and sharply rising repression in Putin’s Russia.
Rowman & Littlefield
Becoming an American: Immigration’s Policies, People, and Promises by Fariborz Ghadar (Feb. 1, hardcover, $40, ISBN 978-1442228948). From the founding director of Penn State’s Center for Global Business Studies come economic and policy suggestions to improve the debate over immigration reform.
America in Retreat: The New Isolationism and the Coming Global Disorder by Bret Stephens (June 3, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-1591846628). A Pulitzer Prize–winning columnist argues that the resurgence of isolationism in the U.S. is an invitation to global disorder of a kind last seen in the 1930s.
Simon & Schuster
Conspiracy Theories and Other Dangerous Ideas by Cass R. Sunstein (Mar. 18, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1476726625). The most controversial essays from the bestselling author and legal scholar are collected for the first time.
The New Arabs: How the Wired and Global Youth of the Middle East Is Transforming It by Juan Cole (July (July 15, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1451690392). Influential blogger and Middle East expert Cole illuminates the role of today’s Arab youth—who they are, what they want, and how they will affect world politics.
Scalia: A Court of One by Bruce Allen Murphy (June 10, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0743296496). An authoritative, deeply researched biography of the most controversial and outspoken Supreme Court justice of our time and how he chose to be “right” rather than influential.
The Second Amendment: A Biography by Michael Waldman (May 20, hardcover, $24, ISBN 978-1476747446). The president of the prestigious Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law presents the life story of the most controversial, volatile, misunderstood provision of the Bill of Rights.
Spiegel & Grau
The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap by Matt Taibbi (Apr. 8, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0812993424) explores the newest divide in America, where an unprecedented wealth gap is not just changing our financial lives, but transforming the meaning of rights, justice, and basic citizenship.
St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne
The Spicer Diaries by Michael Spicer (Mar. 25, hardcover, $40, ISBN 978-1250041937) contain reflections on 35 years at the heart of British politics, from an influential Conservative politician who worked closely with both Margaret Thatcher and David Cameron.
(dist. by S&S)
Toxic: The Bad Romance Between Democrats and Women by Katie Pavlich (July 8, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-1476749600). Fox News contributor Pavlich exposes the truth behind the real war on women—the one being waged by Democrats.
Russians: The People Behind the Power by Gregory Feifer (Feb. 18, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-1455509645) explains the seeming paradoxes of Russian life by unraveling the nature of its people: what is it in their history, desires, and conception of themselves that makes them baffling to the West? 25,000-copy announced first printing.
Univ. of California Press
Following the Leader: Ruling China, from Deng Xiaoping to Xi Jinping by David M. Lampton (Feb. 3, hardcover, $31.95, ISBN 978-0520281219). With unprecedented access to Chinese leaders at all levels of the party and government, Lampton pulls from more than 500 interviews to tell the insider story of China’s political elite from their own perspectives.
(dist. by Random House)
The Muslims Are Coming!: Islamophobia, Extremism, and the Domestic War on Terror by Arun Kundnani (Mar. 18, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-1781681596). The new front in the war on terror is the “homegrown enemy”—domestic terrorists. Based on several years of research and reportage, this is the first comprehensive critique of counter-radicalization strategies.
Yale Univ. Press
An Uncanny Era: Conversations Between Vaclav Havel and Adam Michnik by Elzbieta Matynia (May 27, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0300204032). The first publication in book form of the historic postrevolution conversations between activist playwright and Czech president Havel and Polish journalist Michnik.